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Williams v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 23, 2019

JAMES WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs,
v.
LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [DOCKET NO. 34]

          NANCY J. KOPPE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for leave to file a third amended complaint. Docket No. 34.[1] Defendants filed a response in opposition. Docket No. 36. No reply was filed. The motion is properly resolved without a hearing. See Local Rule 78-1. For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that that the motion for leave to amend be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 25, 2019, United States District Judge Andrew P. Gordon screened Plaintiff's second amended complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). Docket No. 14. In that order, Judge Gordon noted that Plaintiff was attempting to bring 30 different claims against 37 different defendants arising out of different events at different locations during different times. See Id. at 3. Judge Gordon ultimately allowed two claims to proceed: (1) Plaintiff's excessive force claim against Defendants Lavender, Leavitt, Peterson, LVMPD, and Does 1-5 arising out of alleged events on April 21, 2016, id. at 4-6, and (2) Plaintiff's free exercise of religion claim against Defendant Lavender arising out of alleged events on April 21, 2016, see Id. at 8-9. With respect to the other 28 claims, Judge Gordon held that they did not survive screening on various grounds, including that some claims were brought against new defendants from allegations untethered to the events alleged in the original complaint. See Id. at 9-10.[2]

         Plaintiff now returns to the Court with a motion for leave to file a third amended complaint with ten separate claims against 12 named defendants, 27 doe defendants, and a roe corporate defendant. See Docket No. 34; see also Docket No. 34-1.

         II. STANDARDS

         Requests for leave to amend the pleadings filed on or before the amendment deadline are governed by Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 15(a) provides that “[t]he court should freely give leave [to amend] when justice so requires, ” and there is a strong public policy in favor of permitting amendment. Bowles v. Reade, 198 F.3d 752, 757 (9th Cir. 1999). As such, the Ninth Circuit has made clear that Rule 15(a) is to be applied with “extreme liberality.” Eminence Capital, LLC v. Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). On the other hand, a district court's discretion to deny leave to amend is “particularly broad” when-as here-it has already granted leave to amend previously. Gonzalez v. Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, 759 F.3d 1112, 1116 (9th Cir. 2014).[3]

         Under Rule 15(a), courts consider various factors, including: (1) bad faith; (2) undue delay; (3) prejudice to the opposing party; (4) futility of the amendment; and (5) whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint. See Id. at 1052.[4] Futility alone justifies denial of a motion for leave to amend. E.g., Novak v. United States, 795 F.3d 1012, 1020 (9th Cir. 2015). A proposed amendment may be deemed futile if it seeks to add defendants without a sufficient showing that they can be joined to the suit in compliance with the governing rules. See Wood v. TriVita, Inc., 2009 WL 2106291, at *3-4 (D. Ariz. June 22, 2009); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 (courts may address misjoinder of parties “at any time”). Under Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, multiple defendants may be joined in a single suit if (1) the claims against each defendant arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences, and (2) any question of fact or law is common to all parties. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2). Unrelated claims against different defendants belong in different lawsuits. See Docket No. 14 at 10 (citing George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007)). Courts have broad discretion in applying Rule 20. Armstead v. City of Los Angeles, 66 F.Supp.3d 1254, 1262 (C.D. Cal. 2014).

         III. ANALYSIS

         After the filing of three complaints, there are two claims proceeding in this case: (1) Plaintiff's excessive force claim against Defendants Lavender, Leavitt, LVMPD, and Does 1-5 arising out of alleged events on April 21, 2016, id. at 4-6, [5] and (2) Plaintiff's free exercise of religion claim against Defendant Lavender arising out of alleged events on April 21, 2016, see Id. at 8-9. Those two claims also reappear in the proposed third amended complaint and are not at issue for purposes of the motion for leave to amend.[6]

         Of the other eight claims in the proposed third amended complaint, Plaintiff attempts to replead the previously-dismissed Counts X and XI as proposed Counts V and VI. Judge Gordon already found those claims to be insufficiently pleaded to survive screening. See Docket No. 14 at 13. In comparing the allegations in the previously-dismissed claims against the allegations in the proposed Counts V and VI, the undersigned does not discern any meaningful change to them at all, let alone any change that alters Judge Gordon's analysis. Compare Docket No. 15 at ¶¶ 93-119 (previously-dismissed Count X) with Docket No. 34-1 at ¶¶ 46-73 (proposed Count V); compare also Docket No. 15 at ¶¶ 120-23 (previously-dismissed Count XI) with Docket No. 34-1 at ¶¶ 74-77 (proposed Count VI). As such, these proposed claims fail for the reasons already articulated and, for that reason, leave to amend should not be granted as to these two proposed claims.

         The proposed third amended complaint also seeks to add six new claims against other defendants that bear no relation to the claims currently in the case:

• Count I alleges retaliation by proposed Defendant Madrid and various doe defendants arising out of alleged events taking place in late June, 2011;
• Count II alleges retaliation by various doe defendants arising out of alleged events taking place on ...

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